2023/12/20 19:26:25



Read the following passage and write a story entitled “Seeds of Friendship” between 700 and 900 words. You may write a story you have ever read, heard, experienced or imagined. (Suggested completion time: 90 mins)

Seeds of Friendship

Humans are inherently social creatures. We live in families and we work in teams. We envision and share goals and duties through community membership. As renowned psychologist Erich Fromm expounded in his book The Art of Loving, one of humans’ greatest necessities is finding union to escape from the prison of aloneness. He noted that the only completely successful method to achieve this is through the act of love, and brotherly love is the basis of any other kind of love. This idea has long resonated in traditional Chinese culture, with its enduring emphasis on fostering love and friendship among individuals, families and countries, dating back to ancient times. “sìhǎi yījiā (四海一家, all under heaven are one family)” typifies such an idea. It spurred landmark historical events such as Zhang Qian’s expeditions to the Western regions, Zheng He’s seafaring voyages, and the modern Belt and Road Initiative. These endeavors are steps towards cultivating global peace, intensifying cooperation, and building bridges of friendship. We firmly believe that, despite challenges, the shared vision of humanity is a harmonious and peaceful world.




钱孟欣  复旦大学

Seeds of Friendship

"Dear passengers, our next stop is approaching. Please get ready if it is your final destination. Hope you have enjoyed your trip..." The cold, almost mechanic voice of a female echoed from the loudspeaker on the bus. I sat in the back of the carriage, gazing aimlessly into the endless night of an early spring, my mind throbbing alongside the ups and downs of the vehicle.

"Dear passengers, our next stop is approaching. Please get ready if it is your final destination. Hope you have enjoyed your trip..." The voice repeated the words in its same motionless tone. I shuddered, shook my head slightly, and let out a long sign of frustration.

Enjoyed the trip? Well, I certianly would not call that trip "enjoyable". Everything along the trip was quiet. Too quiet. In fact, I might as well say that even a pin drop would sound ear-piercing in that silent carriage. Despite the fact that the whole carriage was full of passengers, there was no sound of chit-chatting, exchanged conversations, not even small talks. Not a single word uttered.

But I knew it could not be called "abnormal". Quite the opposite, it is perfectly normal. Deep down in my heart, I knew very well what was going on, even though I would not have liked to admit it.

My apology. I almost forgot to introduce myself. I am a professional ping-pong player. And at that time, I had just left my home country for an important match in a far away land. I flew over seas and oceans and had just got on that bus in order to arrive at our final destination.

Just then, our guide told us to get off the bus. He told us that we have about half an hour to take a stroll around the station, strech our legs or grab a bite at the food stand. We did as we were told, and as my feet stepped onto the damp mossy soil, I could not help noticing something else - the passengers naturally separated into camps, edging away from each other. 

Again, I knew very well what was going on. Not that we would soon become rivals in the ping-pong match, but that our countries were not getting along at that moment - a cold war would be too much of an exaggeration, but, you know... Between the two countries, there had not been communication, cooperation, mutual trust or brotherly love for quite some time. And such a tense atmosphere could be felt throughout my former journey.

I stared blankly into the night sky and couldn't help wondering. When the thirty minute break is over, when we get back onto the bus, will the solitude and silence remain? I could hear a few strangers talking in a low voice a few yards away from me, looking rather friendly. Then, out of some kind of irresistable impulse, I took a deep breath, plucked up my courage, took one big step towards one of the strangers, patted him gentle on his shoulder, and — 

"Uh. Hi there?" I heard my voice break the silent night air. 

He turned, looked up at me, dumbfounded. I looked back at him, heart pounding fiercely.

"Quite a long journey, wasn't it?" I stuttered, feeling a bit red in the cheek.

"Yeah, I was almost bored to death!" To my utter relief, he replied with a chuckle, and this gave me confidence.

"I was just wondering, if you would be interested in this." I continued as I put my hand into my pocket and pulled out a tiny ping-pong ball. "I enjoy collecting different ping-pong balls — I suppose lots of ping-pong players do — so I was wondering if you would like to add this one to your collection. It is made in my home country — China."

He paused for a moment, and nodded. "Thanks. Wanna make a friend?"

"Dear passengers, our next stop is approaching. Please get ready if it is your final destination. Hope you have enjoyed your trip..." As we returned back onto the bus, the voice sounded again, this time more cheerful — or perhaps it was only my imagination. Whatever. At least, I felt a surge of warmth flowing in my heart, a tickling kind of feeling, almost as if a tiny seed being planted inside and ready to shot out from earth. 

This was my story of how I made a new friend on that trip. A story which began in that cold early spring and continued its new chapters into the years and decades that follow. Later that year, he sent me a beautiful scarf from his country, and we regularly wrote to each other. Back then, I did not know that our friendship could extend to a wider scope and make such a huge impact, ultimately bridging our countries together for the sake of a tiny ping-pong ball. 

Just as tiny seeds could sprout and grew into robust trees despite the harsh environment, the seeds of friendship could take root in the hearts of our fellow companions despite the differences and boundaries.

(为真实展示选手赛场写作风貌,文章为从iTEST 智能测评云平台中摘出的原生作品,仅供学习分享使用。)


方富民 副教授





This story stands out distinctively among its peers, painting a vivid picture of a journey fraught with silence and tension and unfolding the transformative power of a tiny ping-pong ball— a metaphor for “the seed of friendship.”


The most conspicuous aspect of this narrative lies in its clear and coherent structure. The author starts with a recurring announcement— a prelude that highlights the eerie quietness of the bus journey. This artful beginning efficiently grabs readers’ attention and effectively builds a sense of anticipation. The protagonist’s perspective as a professional ping-pong player adds another unique dimension to the narrative, providing insights into the broader geopolitical context that contributes to the prevailing silence among passengers.

The protagonist’s internal reflections on the unusual hush and the unspoken divide between passengers from different countries enhance the story’s depth. The gradual revelation of geopolitical tension adds complexity to the narrative, making the ensuing act of extending friendship to a stranger all the more significant.

The turning point of the story, where the protagonist offers a ping-pong ball as a gesture of friendship, is heartwarming and spirit-lifting. It symbolizes the power of connectedness that transcends geopolitical barriers. The dialogue in this part injects dynamism and vitality to the narrative, rendering it relatable and empathetic.

The story adeptly concludes with a reflection on the enduring impact of this seemingly small act of friendship. The metaphor of tiny seeds growing into robust trees despite the harsh environment effectively conveys the enduring and transformative nature of genuine connections.


Another noteworthy aspect of this narrative is the masterful use of authentic English. For example, the author employs vivid imagery to paint a picture of the surroundings, such as the “endless night of an early spring” and the “damp mossy soil.” A variety of rhetoric devices are also used to augment effects. Specifically, in stressing the unusual quietness in the carriage, the author describes “even a pin drop would sound ear-piercing” in an exaggerated manner. To add depth to the story, the author uses symbolism— the ping-pong ball as a symbol of connection and friendship.


As novelist Hlovate aptly notes, there’s always room for improvement. It is also true of this narrative, which could be improved in the following aspects. 


The author could explore the protagonist’s mental journey from aloneness to the decision to reach out in a more explicit and detailed way. This would provide readers with a deeper understanding of the internal conflict and the courage it took to initiate the conversation. 


The author could refine the dialogue part for authenticity, making the exchange between the protagonist and the stranger more reflective of the tension mentioned earlier. 


Show, but don’t tell. Instead of directly stating the tension between countries, show it through subtle actions, reactions, or the overall ambiance. It might be better if readers were left to deduce the diplomatic strain from the passengers’ behaviors and the unsaid tensions.

Overall, the author skillfully blends elements of reflection, dialogue, and descriptive details to craft an immersive, emotionally resonant and compelling story. It captures the essence of how friendship can break through even the most challenging circumstances, fostering love and friendship, echoing the sentiment of “sìhǎi yījiā” in traditional Chinese culture and expounded in Erich Fromm’s The Art of Loving.